Wednesday, July 18

Wood Pallets...Should We Use Them?

There have been TONS of projects that I've seen lately using wood from pallets (those things that companies use for shipping).  I have to say I've even been tempted myself.  But about a  year ago I read an article referencing the dangers and frustrations that can arise from the use of pallets for building projects.  I can't find that article, though I'm still working on tracking it down.  Anyway, here are some articles that I've found addressing some of these concerns.  From bugs to chemical contact, these articles should be taken into consideration before you decide to go forward with this type of material.

Why We Should Not be Using Pallets in our Interiors

Do You Know Where Your Wood Pallet Has Been?

Don't Reuse Wood Pallets

One other concern, which I don't feel is well addressed in these articles, is that these pallets are NOT constructed for the long term.  The nails are not always hammered in straight and it's common for these manufacturers to use spiral nails that are VERY hard to remove.  These boards can splinter easily, contain knots in the wood, and can otherwise be unwieldy to work with.

While you may still decide to use pallets in your construction projects, pleas heed these cautions.  The generally safe way to use pallets would be to use them from a reputable place that doesn't re-use them for shipping purposes, that you inspect them VERY carefully for any signs of infestation (they can easily harbor termites and cockroaches and various other yucky bugs), and to use them for projects that will remain outside (or at least far away from food preparation purposes and bedding).

Sunday, April 1

Journeys in Juicing and Beginner's Recipe

One bigger purchase my husband and I have been discussing for some time was getting a juicer.  We talked about different options (Vitamix-type blender vs traditional juicer), how much produce would cost us, and whether we were really interested in drinking enough to justify the cost.  About 2 weeks ago we took the plunge.  We used some money that we'd been saving and purchased a Juiceman juicer from Target.  We also then purchased a LOT of fruit and veggies to get started.

So with a few recipes printed off, we started.  And we actually did pretty well!  We are only juicing for breakfast and the kids usually end up drinking most of mine, but we've been really good about sticking with it so far!  We have learned a few things from the recipes we've tried and speaking with others.

  1. We don't like the all vegetable juices.  We don't eat a lot of veggies regularly and some of the flavors are just not good to us.  We don't want to have to "choke down" our juice.
  2. Pears and apples will cover the flavors in many we tend to load up on those.
  3. My kids LOVE fresh juice!!!  They loved store-bought juice before so I guess I shouldn't really be surprised, but they often ask for seconds of juices I have trouble getting down.  
  4. There is a steep learning curve to juicing.  We've learned a lot about how to prep veggies and fruit for juicing and what things are just not worth juicing (like grapes...while yummy they produce surprising little juice for the money).
Here is a picture I took tonight of our shopping trip today.
All of this produce was purchased at Aldi's (except for the lemons, I think).  We've found them to have some of the best prices on produce (though there's no organic fruit there, this is the best option for us right now) and it's usually in good condition!

So anyway, that will last us about a week.  Because of the cost, we can't afford to juice all the time, but we are doing what we can and we have noticed a difference when we have to stop for a day or so.  So I'm gonna give you our favorite juice recipe now....enjoy!

Basic Beginner Juice

3 apples (any kind-stem and core removed)
2 pears (remove stem and seeds)
3 carrots (trim off end)
2 large handfuls spinach leaves

This makes about 12-16 ounces of juice and serves one adult (or two children who love juice).  My kids LOVE this as do my husband and I. Hope you do too!

Thursday, March 29

Parenting is a Marathon, not a Series of Sprints

I haven't written in quite some time.  Today, I just wanted to take a chance to sit down and pour out some things I've been thinking about (and need to remember in the future).

It's so much easier to "run" life like a sprint.

Going from one new idea to another, well, that compliments my ADD perfectly!  Looking at something and saying, "that would be great right now"...that's how I operate, but it's not always best.  Some of my "sprint" ideas turn out pretty well...for instance I decided to do the Bible in 90 Days program...while it is definitely taking me longer than 90 days I did just go for it and I've done much better than I normally do with reading plans like this!

However, sprinting encourages me to be nearsighted and not to pay attention to what the real finish line looks like.  Most recently this has been with regards to parenting.

***For the record, if I describe a way you are parenting as something that doesn't work for my "marathon" intentions, please don't think I dislike what you are doing.  Not every situation or choice is good for all kids or all families.  I have to do what is best for MY kids and MY family.  No judgement toward your decisions is implied.***

Parenting is far more difficult than you can ever fathom before you become a least that's been my experience.  It's not that it's tough changing diapers, making sure they get fed, playing with your kids, etc.   (well, sometimes it is).  But being responsible for them...well that's the toughie for me!  Not just responsible that they are still breathing at the end of the day, keep all their teeth, and don't break too many bones...but responsible for the kind of adult they turn out to be.  Responsible for whether or not they turn out to be responsible, productive citizens.  Yikes!  That's enough to make me want to run in the other direction most days.

Lots of things come up that sound like great experiences or opportunities...
YMCA youth soccer starts at age 3...Carter will be 3 in August.
Preschool starts at age 4 and can be done 1/2 days every day, two days a week, at home, or not at all.
Language immersion schools, charter schools, moving to better public school districts, homeschooling, unschooling...
Is your head spinning like mine?  It's so easy for me to think about the benefits these can offer to my child(ren).

Wow...they could be potty trained already!  Yep I know a lady who's potty training an 11 month old yet my 1 and 2 year olds are no where near that.

They could be fluent in two languages...awesome!  Sign me up!

They could get to run after a ball with no clue they are actually playing a game let alone a sport...sounds so cute and fun!

They should know all their letters before they start school, be able to read chapter books by 1st grade, AND know how to tie their shoes!  Why don't we start them younger than 4! Wait...isn't that the point of kindergarten?

How many science projects should my child do in kindergarten?  Did I even DO science in kindergarten?!?!?

These are all thoughts that have swirled around in my head over the last few months.  It's overwhelming, to say the least.  But to put it all in perspective I have to remember that my children's lives aren't about ANY of this!  It's not about who can sing their ABC's first, read the youngest, speak the most languages, or be a soccer star at 4.  It's about the end result...the adults they grow up to be.  It's about being conscious of the character traits I'm instilling in them now, the ones I will continue to work on as they understand more, and the entirety of their raising.  That's what matters.  Not how many new toys they have, clubs they join, or sports they play now.  Not how many classic novels they read before 3rd grade.

The marathon takes more training, more patience, more stamina.  It takes all of my heart, brain, and so much grace from God.  It takes me putting aside what I *think* my kids should be doing right now...because that's usually based on what others are telling me they should do or what I see other kids doing.  I need to focus on what they *need* in the long term.  My kids, in my opinion, need to see their parents in love, to see their parents worshiping God and studying His word, to learn what God wants for all of us.  And they need some more practical things like to know how to handle money (and not just how to spend it like it's going out of style), to be gracious to others, to show compassion, to serve, to do basic math, to enjoy reading, and, yes, to tie their shoes (velcro seems hard to come by as an adult).

The marathon is the difficult path to choose.  The marathon requires patience--something many are in short supply of, including myself.  The marathon requires commitment and taking time to see where the finish line really is and then to try to figure out the best way to move toward it.  The sprint isn't easy, by any means, but it's over quickly.  And then on to another, and another, and another.  The marathon isn't short bursts of the next-best-thing, it's a prolonged sense of what is truly important.

And...this is seems to be slightly different for each and every child and family.  Your marathon will look different than mine.  Henry's might look different than Carter's.  But it's still important to try and figure out what it looks like and then, the hard part, how to learn to be content with the path you've chosen.

Friday, January 13

Sugar Free Baked Oatmeal

Our family was finally able to sign the lease on our new place the Friday after Christmas.  After signing we made a quick trip to Kansas City to see family over the weekend, drove home Monday evening, and the movers arrived at 9:30 Tuesday (Jan 3) to get us to the new house [it's actually a duplex].  We're finally feeling more settled in and have gotten a vast majority of our boxes unpacked.  

All that to say that meal times have been a bit harried around here for the last few weeks.  We're still occasionally eating off paper plates (when my day is too full to be able to get dishes done) and I'm just really starting to cook more than frozen pizzas.  This morning was my first morning back to actually cooking...and it felt pretty good!  Not only was I able to get some healthy food into my kiddos, but I also modified a recipe I've used for years and made it sugar free!  I'd say that gives me license to take the rest of the day off...right?  

Baked Oatmeal
1/2 c oil (I generally use coconut oil)
3/4 c maple syrup
2 eggs
slightly less than 1 c milk
3 c oats 
2 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
1 t cinnamon
1 t vanilla (optional)

Mix all ingredients together and pour into 8x8 baking dish.  Bake 30-40 minutes at 375.

**This is also really good with cinnamon/sugar apples mixed in or served on top, but we don't have any apples right now...this ended up tasting like maple oatmeal...yummy!